Dualities – The DJ Conundrum

Wow.  It has been almost one month since my last post.  The time has just gone by so fast and furiously, that I didn’t even realize how far behind schedule I was on BTD.  Between work, holidays and other projects I have not done my due diligence in keeping up with my creative habit.

Which is exactly what this post is about.

I talk a lot about the creative habit – how you have to make time for being creative, being mindful of your process, making the right choices for yourself as an artist.  Here I am now faced with one of the biggest challenges – making time to be creative.  I’m sure you experience the same issue – as a matter of fact I know you are.  I’ve had a lot of DJs tell me how it’s really hard to commit to DJ’ing because they have a job and other responsibilities.   I have witnessed how difficult it is to come home from a grueling day job and have to prepare for your party, get psyched, get everyone else psyched, and then not sleeping until the next morning.   It almost can put a damper on the whole endeavor and there comes a time where you need to face the duality of your situation – Job vs. DJ’ing.  Hopefully you have thought this through and have found balance and worked creative time into your schedule ( if you are struggling with this – write to me! )

Job vs. DJ’ing is just one of many dualities you will encounter.  See below an excerpt from Behind The Decks: Establishing the DJ’s Creative Understanding:

There are conflicts that you encounter sometimes during your creative process. “One of the most important things you must do is refuse to take sides with dualities like process and product, simplicity and complexity, discipline and flexibility, and so on, dualities that are integral parts of the creative process.” (Eric Maisel, Coaching the Artist Within ) There’s a  push/pull when playing out for an audience, between what you want to do and what’s expected of you.

While the temptation is to choose one over the other, you need to embrace the fact that there are dualities with what you do. The important thing is to recognize when you are arguing with yourself over these dualities. How you handle those dualities is what frees you to do your work. “We make our own grief by choosing to align with one side or another of these dualities. We say, “I must do commercial work!” or “I must do personal work!” and miss the possibility of doing integrative work that satisfies both masters. We say, “It’s only good if it’s simple!” or, “It’s only worthy if it’s complex!”and ignore the obvious truth that a single brushstroke carries the complexity of a human life and a complex idea can wow us with its elegant simplicity.” (Maisel) There are a few major dualities that DJs talked to me about. How much do you manipulate the music, self vs. the audience, and ART vs. COMMERCE. Depending on your DJ philosophy, chopping up a track or layering effects so that only the essence of the original can be detected may be what you’re comfortable with – but if you are conflicted about that, because maybe you feel pressure that’s what you must do, you must decide how you feel you can comfortably execute and still maintain your sense of self, and your philosophy, in the process. Self vs. the audience is simple – do you DJ for yourself or do you DJ for the audience, or a little of both? ART vs. COMMERCE is a huge issue. DJ’ing is such a new art and all you want to do is share the joy and the passion that comes with it to the world, and yet, there are a lot of challenges you face in getting the outside world to recognize you. So you have to deal with requests, or a dance floor that only responds to a genre you are not prepared or specialized in, or venue owners that refuse to have a genre set one note through the door. So do you give in to ART purely, or do you give into COMMERCE purely – that’s the push/pull and that is a duality you must acknowledge.

DJ Homework:  Sit down and think about the dualities of DJ’ing and what you are personally dealing with.  Figure out what side you’re on with your duality and see how your perspective as a DJ is affected by that stance.  If you feel you have been leaning to one side a little too much, try the other side and see how that feels.  If you feel really strong one way – then just own it!

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